This week Meet the Travel Bloggers, interviews travel blogger, Micki Kosman of The Barefoot Nomad, a family on the road.
When, why and how did you start your travel blog The Barefoot Nomad?
We started The Barefoot Nomad way back in 2009, which, in internet time, is pretty ancient. For a few years we wrote occasional updates that were just meant for family and friends.
About a year ago we decided to work hard to make a living online. We love to travel so much that we wanted to be able to live wherever we wanted, without being tied down by a job to a specific location. So, we got a bit more serious about turning our blog into a business, and started a couple of other websites as well.
How did you get the name and what does the name mean to you?
Charles came up with the name, after we’d rejected a few dozen others. To me, barefoot is a feeling of freedom and being in touch with the world around you. The nomad part came from some teasing by our families, who were always joking that we were modern day nomads, since we always off chasing one adventure or another.
How and when did you two meet?
We met in 2001 when we worked at the same IT company in Calgary. We married in 2004.
How do you divide up the blog activities?
Charles and I each write about half of the blog posts. We both love to write, and are moving toward making a living writing. It’s wonderful that Charles is a good writer and editor, as it’s made my writing a lot better. I do most of the social media stuff on Facebook and Twitter, and wrangle advertisers. Chuck handles most of the hardcore, back end IT stuff.
What keeps you the most jazzed about blogging?
I like that blogging pushes me to write every week. It’s a constant learning curve, between improving my writing, learning social media, figuring out how to make money and new tech that keeps popping up. It’s almost impossible to be bored as a travel blogger.
Where is your home base?
The home base question is a tough one. We’re based in British Columbia, Canada, and have family all throughout Western and Central Canada, so that’s as close as we get, I guess. We also spend a lot of time in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, so it’s becoming a bit of a second home too.
How often do you travel?
We like to take long trips, from six months to a year. We just finished off a six month trip through Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Greece, Italy and Turkey.
But even when we’re back in Canada, we’re traveling. We just spent a week in Toronto, and are spending a month each in rural Alberta and Manitoba’s lake country before stopping for a few months in BC’s Okanagan.
After that, who knows? We’re considering Argentina, Southeast Asia or maybe even Jordan.
How has traveling with children changed your traveling style?
Cole (our son) is 7 and Jordan (our daughter) is 4. Our travel style has changed a lot since we had kids. When we first started traveling together, over 10 years ago, we’d think nothing of staying in a dodgy hostel or just grabbing a quick meal once or twice a day. These days, we need a bit more space for the kids to run around without getting under everyone else’s feet. We’re also more safety conscious, as we’re responsible for two little people.
That said, we still have some wonderful adventures. We took the kids on an overnight train ride from Tangier to Marrakech, Morocco, rode camels in the desert, and even took a hot air balloon ride in Turkey. At four and seven, our kids are starting to be old enough to be a lot of fun on the road.
What are the best and worst things about traveling with children?
I’d say the best thing about traveling with kids is that they’ve forced us to slow down. Kids just don’t do well (at least long term), moving between hotels or countries every day or so. We tend to stay at least a week (sometimes months) wherever we go, giving us a chance to really know the area and the people wherever we’re staying.
By and far, the worst thing about traveling with children is the luggage. It’s the bane of my traveling life. We travel with all the things the kids need (including books for school and toys), plus all the stuff we need to run a business on the road (laptops, chargers, modems, and so on). If anyone’s solved the problem of too much luggage, let me know. I’m all ears.
Do the kids enjoy traveling?
Whenever someone asks them, both kids always say that they like to travel. I consider our family a little democracy, so our kids always get a say in where we go, how long we stay, and what we’ll do. If one of our little group is unhappy, we’re all unhappy, since we spend so much time together.
For now, we’re all really enjoying our life on the road. As the kids get older, they may decide that they want to stop somewhere for a while, and we’ll talk about that then.
What excites you the most about travel?
Is everything a good answer? I love almost everything about being on the road (except for airport security and hauling our luggage around). I even still get a kick out of the little portions of airline food and the feeling you get as your plane takes off. Going to a new place for the first time is wonderful; it’s exciting to see different foods and customs.
What kind of travel do you tend to do?
We’re mid-range travelers. We don’t stay in dirt cheap hostels, but we also rarely stay in overly expensive places. We’ve also been known to take the occasional tour if we think the guide can help us learn more about the area, or splurge on an expensive activity or attraction if it’s worth it to us. More than anything, it’s about the value of the experience. Sometimes it’s good to splurge, if you can afford it, and if you get something really enjoyable or valuable from it.
We paid a little more for a recent stay in a cave hotel in Goreme, Turkey, but it was worth every penny for the fun of staying in a beautiful cave. For the most part, we rent apartments for a month or so, which keeps costs down, and gives us a local home base to explore from.
What are the most important things to you on a trip?
We spend a considerable amount of time searching out good ice cream and bakeries. Food is always a great way to get to know a country and its people, so we like to eat at local restaurants, and cook local food as much as we can. For us, it’s less about seeing the big sites, and more about getting a feel for the people and culture where we’re staying. With little kids, we choose our museums carefully (as they can be dreadfully boring for little ones), but we’ve gone to a few great ones. What comes to mind are the Reina Sofia in Madrid to see Picasso and Dali paintings, and the Royal Tyrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller in Alberta.
What’s your most memorable travel experience or favorite trip ever and why?
Wow, that’s a tough question! We just got back from a hot air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, which was intensely beautiful and serene. Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and coming within inches of a gigantic sea turtle was another.
What’s your favorite place on earth?
I honestly couldn’t pick one favorite place. The world’s full of such amazing places, all different but wonderful. My top three countries would be Thailand (for the food and beaches), Turkey (for the people, food, and diversity of things to see) and Canada (because being away has made me appreciate how much unspoiled natural beauty there is here).
Where are you now and where are you off to next?
We’re in Canada, visiting my Mom in rural Alberta. It’s definitely a change of pace to be on an acreage in a small town, after coming from big cities like Toronto and Istanbul. Next, we’re traveling to Manitoba to spend some time with Charles’ family, and then off to the mountains in British Columbia.
What’s the biggest fantasy on your bucket list?
Oh, that’s tough. I always say (half jokingly) that I haven’t written a bucket list because the entire world would be on it. I’d love to take a helicopter ride over an active volcano, hike through Tibet, or go horse riding in Mongolia and sleep in a yurt.